Hello World System Call

This was given to me as an assignment in my Operating Systems Lab. It took me a lot of time to finally crack it. So i thought of putting it up in my blog.  I implemented it on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS running on a virtual machine.

We will take a step by step approach in getting it done.

Step 1
Get a linux source

Ubuntu doesn’t come with the full linux source. So you may have to download it either from websites like kernel.org or you can download it using the following command.

sudo apt-get install linux-source

This downloads a tar.bz2 file to the /usr/src folder. Extract it to any folder you like and that will be your linux source root folder from now on.

Step 2
Add your custom system call to System Call Table

Open the file arch/x86/kernel/syscall_table_32.S and append the following line to the file

.long sys_hello_world

Step 3
Define the macros associated with your system call

Open the file arch/x86/include/asm/unistd_32.h. The file contains macro definitions for all the system calls. We have to add a macro for our system call in this file. Each system call is assigned an index number. My file had 348 such macro definitions. Hence i added my call indexed as 349 by adding the following line in the file.

#define __NR_hello_world 349

Do the same with the uistd_64.h file @ arch/x86/include/asm/unistd_64.h

#define __NR_hello_world 312
__SYSCALL(__NR_hello_world, sys_hello_world)

Now open the file include/linux/syscalls.h and add a prototype to your system call function

asmlinkage long sys_hello_world(void);

Now in the root directory in the kernel, create a folder named hello_world and create a file named hello_world.c with the following code


asmlinkage long sys_hello_world(void){
printk("Hello World\n");
return 0;

Step 5
Pre-Compilation Settings

Create a file named Makefile within the hello_world directory and the following line to the file

obj-y := hello_world.o

This is done to ensure that the hello_world.c file is compiled and included in the new system kernel.
Now open the Makefile in the root directory(Source-linux), and change the following line

core-y          += kernel/ mm/ fs/ ipc/ security/ crypto/ block/


core-y          += kernel/ mm/ fs/ ipc/ security/ crypto/ block/ hello/

This is to tell the compiler that the source for the new system calls are available at the /hello_world directory

Step 6
Compile the kernel

You can compile the kernel using the following commands

sudo make

Now you have enough time to watch a football match until the compilation completes. Once compilation is done, reboot your system.

Step 7
Install the new kernel

sudo make modules_install install

Step 8 Check if your system call actually works

Create the following program and run it to check whether the system call works

#include <stdio.h>
#include <linux/kernel.h>
#include <sys/syscall.h>
#include <unistd.h>

#define __NR_hello_world 312

long hello_syscall(void) {
    return syscall(__NR_hello_world);

int main(intargc, char*argv[]) {
    long int a = hello_world_syscall();
    printf("System call returned %ld\n", a);
    return 0;

The program should output the following

System call returned 0

The printk() in the system call program will be updated in the system log which can be viewed using the following command.


If everything works well, you can find your system call listed in the system log.


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